Portsmouth Schools Foundation was formed by Mr. R. Franklin Hawkins, the school board chairman, Dr. Rondle E. Edwards, the superintendent, and a group of concerned community leaders and business people on December 17, 1986. The Foundation's purpose was to actively promote excellence in Portsmouth's public schools and to create opportunities and resources for others to do the same.
Mrs. Helen Hampton Jones was selected as the first president and Mr. A. C. Hinton, Jr. was made acting executive director. The first annual meeting for the Foundation was held on May 18, 1987. James T. Martin, School System Attorney at the time, developed Articles of Incorporation and the Bylaws were approved.
In May of 1989, Mrs. Kathy Kitterman took over as executive director of the Foundation. A mission statement and goals were formulated under the direction of Mrs. Kitterman. Mr. Robert Ossman was elected president of the Foundation, and served from 1989 until 1992.
In 1989 the Tidewater Scholarship Foundation approached the Portsmouth Schools Foundation concerning the ACCESS program expanding into Portsmouth. In January of 1990, several business leaders met with Mr. Josh Darden and Mr. Bert Hindmarsh and agreed to assist the Portsmouth Schools Foundation in the fundraising effort to enter the ACCESS program. At the annual meeting in May of 1990, it was announced that the ACCESS program would be made possible through grants from the Beazley Foundation, the Portsmouth General Hospital Trust, Maryview Hospital, Commerce Bank, Homestead Bank, and Signet Bank. The first students from Portsmouth were admitted to the ACCESS program in September of 1990.
The Foundation was incorporated in the state of Virginia and received a 501(c)(3) designation from the Internal Revenue Service in the spring of 1990 due to the service of David R. Tynch. Claude Parent offered his services as executive director of the Foundation in 1990 as well. A mini-grant program was initiated during the 1990 school term.
In December of 1991, Mrs. Betsy Teuton was hired as executive director. Mrs. Isabel Brenner succeeded Robert Ossman as president in 1992. During the years from 1992-1994, the Foundation adopted long range goals and continued to support its existing program priorities, the ACCESS program and the mini-grant program, as well as developing a collaborative Parents as Teachers model and implementing the IMPACT II program, a national teacher networking program. In addition, the Foundation worked with the Chamber of Commerce by participating on the Education Committee and by sponsoring a recognition ceremony and developing and hosting an orientation program for all business and school partners.
In another collaborative effort, the Foundation worked with the Vocational Education Council and the Virginia Employment Commission to hold a career fair for all Portsmouth 8th graders. Approximately 1600 students were invited and bused in for a day-long event in April of 1993.
In 1994, Mr. Junius Williams assumed the presidency of the organization and Mrs. Eileen Eidam was hired as the executive director. That year three groups of applicants were awarded grants to either initiate or disseminate innovative ideas in the school system. The Portsmouth Schools Foundation participated in the presentation to the judges of the Senate Productivity Award in 1994 and 1995. This award was conferred on the Portsmouth City Public Schools in 1995.
In 1997, Mr. Daniel Plante was elected president. It was decided that the Foundation should have two annual fundraising events to raise money to support the Innovator Grant and ACCESS programs. In the spring of 1998, the 1st Annual Auction was held at the Ambassador Club in Portsmouth. In the fall of 1998, the Foundation held its 1st Annual Celebrity Roast, roasting the Honorable Mayor Holley.
In November of 1998, Mrs. Maureen Mizelle assumed the duties of executive director. Mrs. Mizelle brought with her many years of experience working as a volunteer in the school system, as well as having served several years as a board member of the Foundation. In May of 1999, Mr. Herbert A. Haneman, Jr. was elected president. From 1999-2000, the Foundation was represented on the Future Search Committee, joined with the Portsmouth Interagency Network, and continued to support ACCESS.
In May of 2001, Mr. Charles B. Whitehurst, Sr. was elected president. Mr. Whitehurst's vision for the Foundation was to develop an endowment fund to sustain the programs for the future. The annual Wellness Day event was developed as well.
In May of 2003, Mr. Daniel R. Evans was elected president. During Mr. Evans' tenure as president the Foundation broadened its involvement in the business community through involvement in the Chamber of Commerce and membership in several coalitions and consortiums in the community. New programs aimed at retaining quality teachers were developed such as TAPS and Pencils to PCs. These programs helped address some of the needs of the classroom teachers while forging new partnerships between the schools and the business community.
With the arrival of Superintendent David Stuckwisch in 2003, the Foundation aligned its role in the business community and its involvement in the Career and Technical Education programs with Dr. Stuckwisch's belief that a school division's most important measure of success is the opportunities available to seniors as they graduate from high school. To that end, Career and Technical Education, STEM education and early college have become hallmarks of Portsmouth Public Schools and focuses of the Foundation. Additionally, an event to honor distinguished alumnae of the Portsmouth Public Schools was developed.
In 2005, Mr. David C. Holley was elected president. Under his able leadership, the Foundation established the Portsmouth Career Coalition. This coalition is made up of individuals from the Portsmouth Schools Foundation, the Portsmouth Public Schools, as well as the business community.
In May 2007, Ann M. Kirk-Mendes was elected president. During her tenure, the Foundation continued to expand its involvement in Career and Technical Education and held the 1stAnnual Career and Technical Education Fair. This annual event gives students and parents the opportunity to meet with area employers to explore future careers and discover the courses offered in the Portsmouth Public Schools to help make the careers possible. The years of 2007-2009 also saw the Foundation take on more scholarships and form a partnership with Portsmouth Reads.
In May 2009, Mayor Kenneth Wright took over as president of the Foundation with the plan to continue to develop new partnerships in the community while maintaining the existing core programs.
The year 2011 brought Gary Leggett to the Foundation as president. Under his effective leadership, the Foundation focused on sustaining the programs in place and broadened its focus to determine manners in which to gain more support from the Hampton Roads community.
In July 2013, Maureen Mizelle said goodbye to 15 years with the Foundation and welcomed Alisa Tynch Smith as the executive director of the Foundation. A product of the Portsmouth Public School system, Mrs. Smith brought experience as an educator at the elementary school, middle school, high school, and college levels as well as experience in the field of development. Mrs. Smith started new programs and events including Edibles for Education and partnerships with new communinty leaders. The year 2013 brought another alumna of the Portsmouth Public Schools into a leadership position with the Foundation. Denice Faircloth Williams was elected president. Her military background and passion for Portsmouth are evident in her strong leadership, strategic planning, and desire to align the Foundation's current happenings with its long range goals. In February 2015, Dr. Elie Bracy accepted the role of Superintendnet of Portsmouth Public Schools and joined the Portsmouth Schools Foundation.
In July 2015, the Foundation opened its doors to Sabrina Lee Evans as the new executive director as Mrs. Smith moved out of the area. Mrs. Evans brings experience working with the Chamber of Commerce as well as a passion for our public schools. Joseph Scharl assumed the position of president in July 2015. He pledges to lead the foundation with open communication, a sense of humor, a passion for our schools, and a commitmnet to education.
Over the years, the Foundation has been a source of grant funding and scholarships for the teachers of the Portsmouth Public Schools as well as a source of scholarships for our students, and that tradition continues. Today the vision of the Portsmouth Schools Foundation is to serve as a catalyst for improvement in the Portsmouth Public Schools so that it becomes the system of choice for all Portsmouth parents and students.
The Foundation enjoys impressive volunteer leadership and participation by its Board of Directors. Our challenge for the immediate future continues to be securing funding for the programs and activities that promote excellence in the Portsmouth Public Schools.